Doug Kern doesn't consider himself to be an inspirational person, but obviously, many of his friends and family don't agree.
Kern broke his neck while making a tackle as a Parkland football player when he was 16 years old back in 1970.
It was a major injury that had a great impact on his life.
"I was completely paralyzed, but through faith, grueling physical therapy, and devoted friends and family, I walked out of the Good Shepherd Rehab facility eight months later using a cane," Kern said.
He went on to graduate from Lafayette College with an engineering degree.
He now walks with the aid of crutches or uses a wheelchair, but still moves forward with a positive, unyielding attitude that allows him to live life to its fullest.
Five years ago, Kern, a Schnecksville resident, completed the New York City Marathon, using a special bicycle called a hand cycle that is powered by arm and upper-body strength.
It turned into a vast fundraising effort that produced a $35,000 donation to The Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley.
Five years later, Kern and his friends have embarked on another year-long fundraising effort to again benefit the Miracle League, located in Heidelberg Township.
Their efforts included a night of musical entertainment, a 5K event that was completely handicapped accessible, a basketball tournament, a breakfast and an Italian Night among many other things.
Kern's son, Nate, and daughter, Abby, were involved in coordinating several of the events as was his wife, Claire, who he calls "the hardest-working volunteer."
But the culminating event came earlier this month when Kern led a contingent of 36 Lehigh Valley-area residents, including Miracle League director Melissa Borland, to Florida where Kern was among 14 local participants in the Palm Beach Marathon.
"I promised myself that if I was still able to ride when I turned 60, I would ride in another marathon to benefit the Miracle League and this time I had the idea to take friends along," Kern said. "My goal was to have a runner from each decade of life … somebody in their teens, someone in their 20s and someone in their 30s and so on. Turns out, we accomplished that and more as a total of 14 of us participated."
The group, representing Kern's "Miles for Miracles" campaign, had a wonderful time, but more importantly raised an outstanding amount of money.
"It was the trip of a lifetime and a very emotional and inspirational week," Kern said.
Kern wanted to salute everyone involved including Rick Bonsell, Barb Brader, Daren German, Joe Schmidt and Mike Stribula, who participated in the marathon; Megan Bonsell, Ed Brader, Bob Steckel and Sarah Stribula, who did the half-marathon; and Jeff Herbine, Veronica Herbine, Nate Kern and Kelly Trussell, who were on the marathon relay.
Kern wouldn't say how much money was raised, saying it will be a big surprise when the money is officially donated to The Miracle League at a ceremony at Kern's Neffs UCC Church at 4 p.m. on Jan. 12.
For those who still want to get involved, Kern said donations are still being accepted. Checks should be made out to "Miracle League of the LV" and mailed to Miles for Miracles, PO Box 93, Neffs, PA 18065.
Kern also encouraged anyone interested to check out the group's website at MilesforMiraclesLV.com and their Facebook page at milesformiraclesLV.
"This is not about me at all," Kern said. "I am not looking for fame. This was a team effort by a wonderful group of people.